New York City, though an exciting destination for all members of the family, can present some sensory challenges to travelers with autism. By heeding to our tips, parents with autistic children will be able to plan their vacation and make the experience more memorable for the entire family.
Visiting New York can be fun and educational for everyone – including your family member on the autism spectrum. However, his special needs must be taken into consideration when you are planning this trip. Exploring new sights and sounds can be overwhelming for any traveler, and when you take into account the child’s unique sensory issues, research is the key to having a positive experience for the entire family.
The following tips are aimed to help smooth the way for a pleasant visit while in the city.
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Where to Stay
Since the city is pedestrian friendly, travelers may want to stay somewhere central enough to be able to walk to many of the locales. Many vacationers opt to stay in the Times Square or the Central Park areas, which are good options as long as one asks for a high floor to block the city noise out. For parents looking for a more budget-friendly option, the area around Penn and Grand Central can be viable options too.
How to Get Around
The Big Apple is a bustling city where the primary modes of transportation are walking, the subway, or hailing a taxi. With that said, parents will need to take into consideration the such things as underground tunnels, fear of heights, strong unpleasant smells, different sounds, as well as the occasional bumping into other people when using public transportation. These might be quite challenging for kids on the autism spectrum.
A different option for those that are comfortable is riding bikes in traffic. There are several spots you can rent city bikes too.
Since the city holds multiple parades or special events during the year, parents need to find out the route ahead of time to avoid the crowds and possible street closures.
Visiting NYC Attractions
New York City has many world-class art and history museums, like the Metropolitan and Museum of Natural History, for families with autism to explore. Parents should start planning their tour by visiting the museum website and checking the virtual tour.
When visiting a museum with a child with autism, it is best to arrive as soon as the venue opens for business to avoid the crowds and the noise associated with it.There are a couple of options parents should investigate before going including: obtaining a discount for special needs, purchasing a day pass if it is offered and the booking a free docent tour (the Museum of Natural History offers one) ahead of time if available.
Kids who love animals can visit the Central Park or the Bronx Zoo, which is about a 30-minute drive out of Manhattan. Families who have a family membership at their local zoo or museum might discover their membership makes them eligible for discounts in the New York facilities too.
If your kid likes to walk or ride a bike, consider crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from side to side.
Where to Eat
Traveling parents should install Google Maps and Yelp on their cell phone to help them find any food their kid is most familiar with or used to back on the home front. While visiting the city, visitors should venture into Little Italy or Chinatown to introduce their special needs child to new cuisines that can expand on their nutritional needs.
The quintessential NYC must-do, the city’s food trucks, offer a fascinating array of delicacies, and are cheap and portable.Parents should check and avoid restaurants that employ smoking policies, or are popular with fellow tourists since the service and air quality will probably disappoint them.
Where to Shop
American Girl, the Disney Store, and M&M and Hershey Store are some suggestions for a any child looking for a souvenir during her visit to Times Square, and children with autism are no different on that front. Cartoon characters are appealing to children on most of the spectrum, so locating a store that sells memorabilia featuring their favorites should be one of the first places you make a purchase for your child.Try not to forget to buy the signature “I Love New York” article of clothing.
Depending on whether your visit takes place during the hot, humid summer months or the cold, snowy winter months you can enjoy a ferry ride across the Hudson River or go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It all depends on the comfort level of your traveling party.
There are two large urban parks in New York City: Central Park and Battery Park. There are loads of activities during the summertime. Battery Park has a daily volunteering program, which may be suitable for the child that is interested in horticulture or farming.
When planning your trip, take into consideration the season when you will be visiting. You may need to pack accessories like swimsuits, portable fans and disposable wipes for the warmer season and hats, gloves, and boots for the colder months
Are you a parent to a child with autism?
Have you visited New York with your child? If so, share your tips with us.